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Surviving Eric Gordon Article

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by DaneB, Jul 29, 2020.

  1. DaneB

    DaneB Member

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  2. J.R.

    J.R. Contributing Member

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    As Eric Gordon lay on the ground inside The Arena, grimacing in pain and clutching at his left ankle, there was an all-too-familiar jarring feeling that returned, something that could even be felt hundreds of miles away from the Orlando bubble.

    The play that had resulted in the injury was innocuous —Celtics big man Vincent Poirier had simply come over to the left wing to provide help defense for Brad Wannamaker. Gordon immediately realized the attempt and launched a jump pass to an unmarked Robert Covington in the paint, but landed on Poirier’s foot on the way down.

    The Rockets were already up comfortably on the Celtics with a minute to go until halftime—a game where Brad Stevens had rested his entire starting group ahead of the season restart, and a game where Houston wanted to ramp up playing time for their core. But the collision, and the sight of Gordon wincing on the ground and eventually carried off by the help of Tyson Chandler and Michael Frazier, brought an untimely reminder of one of the biggest realities in sports.

    “He’s got X-rays—they’re negative,” Mike D’Antoni said following Houston’s 137-112 win. “It hurts a little bit. I hope it doesn’t really swell so we don’t know until tomorrow the extent of it. But he’s going to be out a few days.”

    Injuries aren’t an exact science. When talk of the season restart and the bubble setup was gaining momentum, one of the obvious questions that were raised was the risk of players getting hurt. It would have been expected in any normal NBA season but especially one in which an abrupt four-month layoff had occurred.

    But those hypothetical injuries were more along the lines of muscle strain or over-exertion—cramps, hamstring pulls, et cetera. In Gordon’s case, stepping on someone else’s trailing foot, that could have happened at any point.

    It’s unfortunate for Gordon given the season he’s had, one which he described as his most difficult to date due to a number of reasons—a nagging knee injury and subsequent shooting slump—but there was a reason for optimism, a light at the end of the tunnel.

    “Of course Eric is a huge part of what we’re doing,” Harden said. “Hopefully he can get his ankle healed as soon as possible. But we’ve played with adversity all year. It’s another opportunity for us to step up.”

    Over the course of the hiatus, Gordon shed weight, primarily in hopes that he would be able to avoid future knee injuries.

    The timing of the injury is brutal. Not just because of Friday’s looming season restart date with the Dallas Mavericks, but because of what plans Houston had for Gordon and what the team had been working and planning behind the scenes to install and better help him. The Rockets are a team that of course pays close attention to advanced math, statistical trends, and film study. But they also revere the mental aspect of the game. Intangibles like confidence, focus, brotherhood, and mental health are extremely important to this veteran group.

    With Gordon, it was clear that his spirits were down this season. Anyone who signed the most lucrative deal of their career and spent the first year of said deal laboring through injuries, dealing with a drop in productivity, and hearing outside public criticism would see a dip in confidence.

    In the games that Gordon did appear in, he was rarely used in the manner he had been accustomed to a few seasons ago when he won Sixth Man of the Year. At times, he was nothing more than a floor spacer and catch-and-shoot option, instead of the multi-faceted scorer that his body of work suggests. To counter that, according to a team source, the Rockets had planned to use these scrimmages to get him going—with one idea to have a look at him on the floor with members of the starting unit, while James Harden and Russell Westbrook took breathers.

    The thinking behind the plan is this: get Gordon to tap into his scoring side. The night he scored 50 against the Jazz registered quite heavily with members of the organization who hadn’t seen Gordon play like that in a long, long time. Even if you could get him in that role for three to four minutes, Gordon would be engaged and attentive even when the starters returned to the floor and his usage rate naturally went down.

    D’Antoni said the team won’t know the extent of the damage done to Gordon’s ankle until Wednesday, where hopefully there will be more clarity as it pertains to the rest of the season and his expected return date. To get some additional insight into his injury, The Athletic spoke with Dr. Rajpal Brar, sports scientist and Doctor of Physical Therapy with 3CB Performance:

    “Looks like a left ankle inversion sprain (ankle turns inwards) which stresses the lateral (outer) ligaments,” Brar said. “Severity is difficult to discern but typically being able to walk on the ankle afterward is a good indicator of no fracture (typically the fibula, the lower leg bone on the outside). Assuming no fracture, the best case is a mild grade 1 sprain which typically has a return to play (RTP) of 7-10 days, the moderate case is a grade which averages 2-3 weeks, worst case is a grade 3 rupture which has typically has a 4-6 week return. Can usually discern a grade 1 relatively quickly based on a clinical exam but discerning between grade 2 vs 3 can take longer.”

    ESPN reported Tuesday evening that the initial estimate for Gordon’s injury would be 1-2 weeks. A hypothetical timeline of 10 days off counts him out of fixtures against the Mavericks, Blazers, Bucks, and Lakers. Those are four huge games the Rockets can’t afford to lose additional ground in the Western Conference on, but they’ll have to do it without one of their key figures.

    The other part of the equation is what if the injury takes longer? While Gordon’s season has been forgettable, his importance in the postseason is without question. There’s a reason he’s been discussed as the team’s X-factor and we can lean on history for more insight. In the past two years, for example, his defense on Jazz star Donovan Mitchell was stellar, one of the underrated storylines of their success.

    While he may not be a household name for lockdown defense, his abilities are there—enough size, strength, and smarts to get by on a good number of occasions. Most smart teams can work with that and can find ways to maximize output, like against Mitchell and the Jazz. Shooting slump or not, Houston needs Gordon to be successful in the bubble.

    When we talk about injuries, we always have to mention who picks up the pieces as well as the significance of the player who will miss time. The more significant an absence is, the harder the job will be to make ends meet. In regards to Gordon, D’Antoni and the team urged a collective effort to pick up the slack. “It won’t be just one guy,” D’Antoni said. “Everybody will pick it up.”

    “Hopefully yea but we’ll wait and see what happens,” Westbrook added. “We got a lot of guys that’ll be ready to go when their name is called so we’ll definitely be prepared.”

    In the second half following Gordon’s exit, D’Antoni went with Ben McLemore instead of Danuel House. Given the constant back-and-forth that has occurred in D’Antoni’s mind between House and Gordon, it would make sense to assume House resumed his old position.

    House’s importance to the team has long been stated outside of the physical qualities he brings, his ability to play long minutes is one reason the team liked to have him spot minutes as the backup power forward, something D’Antoni alluded to after the game.

    “We’ll see,” D’Antoni said. “I started Ben for a couple [of] reasons. One, it’s an easier rotation because Danuel also has to backup Covington at the 4, so it’s not as much [change]. Danuel probably could start—we’ll see what happens.”

    D’Antoni also noted that there will be more game time for Austin Rivers who appeared in his first minutes of action. The claims of his high level of play in practice looked accurate from Tuesday night’s game—a tidy 14 points in 20 minutes on 3-6 shooting from the field, including 2-of-4 from behind the arc. If Rivers is ready to go, Gordon’s skillset—scoring, ball-handling, defense—could be somewhat replaced by Rivers, albeit on a smaller scale. This doesn’t mean that Houston wouldn’t be able to use Rivers and also

    Should Houston look for a more job-by-committee approach, other names could be called on as well. Luc Mbah a Moute and Demarre Carroll immediately come to mind, but there could always simply be added work for players like House, McLemore, and Green.

    Should they choose to go with McLemore in the starting lineup, it’s an easy fill in. His spacing and shooting makes them a more dangerous team and from the looks of it—Houston slowly but surely installing more plays in their offense—his impact could be even more profound should he hit the target efficiently. His defense hasn’t been great this season but a smart defensive team can find ways to counter deficiencies on the floor, or at least hold water long enough.

    All in all, the sheer unknown about Gordon’s injury is the biggest takeaway. It creates an uncertainty inception—an uncertain situation inside of an already uncertain situation that is the bubble and how the season will go. How the Rockets navigate this will go a long way to determining how long their stay will be in Orlando.
     
  3. hakeem94

    hakeem94 Member

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    i am not worried at all, i think austin rivers is a better player... ego has become too much reliant on chucking....settling for 30 footers instead of driving to the hoop which is a more efficient shot
     
  4. jch1911

    jch1911 Member

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    I was just about to tell OP... you should @ @J.R. if you want someone to post the article... lol
     
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  5. JW86

    JW86 Member

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    Meh we'll be fine as far as replacing Gordon, the problem comes in when MDA is forced to use more than his usual rotation. In other words, he's not going to expand it so we go with 7-8 man - Rivers & Green with some House - and a midget team instead of using talent on the bench. House being described as the back-up 4 is just hilarious to me. Good luck with staying sane Rockets fans, this will be the ultimate test for MDA and to see if he actually learned something this year. He said he would potentially expand his rotation to 9 or 10 a while back given all the talent, but I just don't see it.
     
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  6. Astrodome

    Astrodome Member

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    We need him but not for the seeding games. There is no homecourt advantage. Ideally, not having to play both LA teams would be nice but a healthy EGo is a must. If we fall to 7 and face the clips in the first round, hopefully he will be ready.
     
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  7. opticon

    opticon Member

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    RIvers is slept on. Gorgon has more physical strength then rivers. However, Rivers makes up for that with agility in one on one defensive perimeter situations. Rivers shooting and driving ability is on par with Gordon in my opinion (Gordon Can shoot a deeper 3 for floor spacing). Gordon is the beneficiary of more minutes since he is Harden's longest-tenured teammate and has earned buckets of leeway with MDA and Harden.

    Hopefully, Rivers uses this time to step up and really show what he can do.
     
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  8. ElPigto

    ElPigto Member
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    We really don't have any other players lol. The Prince has hardly played basketball the last couple of years, we can't realistically expect that he is actually going to be an option. Carroll is no bigger than House and he hasn't looked all that great in his limited time either, so who else do you put?
     
  9. Reeko

    Reeko Member
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    Rockets have been surviving his trash play on the court all season

    37% from the field, 32% from 3 on almost 9 attempts a game...averages 2 rebounds in almost 29 mpg...51% TS which is way below average...negative VORP

    watching him chuck and brick and attempt those tragic drives to the rim makes my eyes bleed

    I hope Morey is able to catfish some team into taking him and his contract off our hands in the offseason
     
  10. Ziggy

    Ziggy Tastemaker
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    First sentence.
    Lulzy sequence of events.
     
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  11. banzai

    banzai Contributing Member

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    Yep, I like Rivers... he’s been waiting for an opportunity to shine and he’s been really consistent and really patient in his play making. He’s gonna be key.
     
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  12. YOLO

    YOLO Member

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    they can survive regular season games and what not without him. But if the rockets intend on making a deep run, they definitely need him. The playoffs will be short lived without him. There isn't another role player behind harden/wb with a ceiling as high as him for games and his ability to guard. It's always just the health that comes into play unfortunately
     
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  13. riko

    riko Member

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    We’ve survived his erroneous shooting so far so we can survive without him . But if we want to win the chip we need the first season Eric here in 017.
     
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  14. D-rock

    D-rock Member

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    Rivers is a very good backup but let's not get ridiculous here.

    Rivers will never put up a 50 burger nor will he win any 6th MOY awards. EGo at his best is all star caliber. Even when shot not falling he stretches the court because his 3ball is feared.

    EGo has strength and athleticism to successfully defend 1-5, Rivers cannot do this. EGo can lock down all star guards on perimeter, Rivers cannot do this.

    Rivers is feisty and confident but he is limited physically.

    A healthy and rust free EGo is still Rockets best 2 way player. Despite his crapshoot of a season thus far, EGo is still a weapon we need.

    Hoping he gets better soon.
     
  15. D-rock

    D-rock Member

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    I do love that Rivers is eager for the challenge.

    Man down, man up!

    Rivers' 3ball will be key.

     
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  16. Sanctity

    Sanctity Member

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    There are high school basketball coaches that have their squad jump and land on angled ramps to prep ankles for the game....
     
  17. YOLO

    YOLO Member

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    Also keep in mind, for rivers this is an excellent opportunity to personally carve himself out some nice value $ money wise if he plays very well in an expanded role. I highly doubt he'll be willing to play under min again next year w/ that player option. He has every reason to step up now, to not only contribute to winning but put himself in place for potential multi year deals w/ decent money at still only 27 years old once this restart is complete.
     
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  18. kjayp

    kjayp Contributing Member

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    "The Rockets were already up comfortably on the Celtics with a minute to go until halftime—a game where Brad Stevens had rested his entire starting group ahead of the season restart, and a game where Houston wanted to ramp up playing time for their core."

    One coach resting key personnel - and the other 'ramping up playing time...'

    Many say that MDA is such a genius - but thwarted in the past by sheer bad luck regarding injuries - people make their own luck...
     
    daywalker02 likes this.
  19. daywalker02

    daywalker02 Easter Egg Hunter - Tell me why? نحن عائلة
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  20. ROXTXIA

    ROXTXIA Contributing Member

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    I remember before he became a Rocket. I thought of Rivers as a punk. Well, he is a punk. But now I'm the hypocrite who says, "Now he's our punk."

    That time he was egging on his dad, who got tossed.....priceless. You can't buy moments like that.
     
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